Getting to Know … Pascale Helyar-Moray - The Inner West Mums
It’s always inspirational to talk with a female CEO, and here Pascale shares with us her journey in creating Super-Rewards and how it can benefit all of us.
What is Super Rewards and what are the benefits to women?
Super-Rewards is a shopping platform where retailers pay you cash rewards, directly into your super. It’s effectively a loyalty program, but paying cash, not points.
We have a population where 40% of women are not in the workforce: no income means no super. This is a key reason why women retire with 58% as much super as men. Super-Rewards leverages the fact that women make 80% of household shopping decisions and turns their effort – buying the groceries, purchasing clothes for the children, booking the holidays – into cash rewards for their super.
What inspired you to start Super-Rewards?
This journey started a long time ago, but there are a few main reasons which led me to start Super-Rewards.
1. Financial education
I’ve worked for many years in financial services and saw myself writing content about compound interest and the importance of salary sacrifice. I actually practiced what I preached and managed to do salary sacrifice in my twenties and thirties. This compounded sufficiently to mean that, despite my years out of full-time work as a mother and entrepreneur, my super is still in reasonable shape. However, that’s simply not the case for most women.
2. Work experience
I saw myself over and over presenting about super and the super gap to rooms filled with women, who would then ask me, ‘Okay, but what do I DO?’ That moment of panic and fear in their eyes, as well as the realisation that they’re stuck financially (they can’t double their pay, get a second/third job, divest themselves of their caring responsibilities) – just stayed with me and really drove me to do something about it.
3. Deep insight
As Director of Communications with the Australian Gender Equality Council, I understood that the headline problem of women retiring with 58% as much super as men still hasn’t changed over time. And that for as long as we don’t resolve the key issues that feed into it – gender pay gap, cost of childcare, inactivity on policy, and a culture that doesn’t value “women’s work” – then it’s ridiculous to expect that super gap to change.
What tips would you give to someone looking to save for their retirement?
I always say the same thing: save as much as you can, starting as early as you can. The reason is that the more super you have, the more compound interest it earns. By the time you start thinking about your super at aged 45-50, it’s starting to cut it really fine in terms of building up a sufficient amount for your retirement. Any salary sacrifice you can do, the better. Any monetary windfalls eg bonuses, or inheritance, put it into your super. Super is incredibly tax-efficient too.
A lot has been written and said about the gender pay and super gap in Australia (and worldwide for that matter). Part a) How can organisations address this better? Part b) How can women help push to reduce/ nullify this gap?
I personally become really frustrated with the rate of change (or lack of change) by organisations. Yes we see some improvements but the change isn’t fast enough. A recent WGEA report showed definitively that the organisations who embed gender equality into every aspect of their organization – more females in management as well as throughout the organistion, gender equality as a strategic direction upheld by senior management – these are the companies that are closing their gender pay gap more quickly than others. So having gender equality taken seriously, and ingrained into corporate culture, works. This report has the figures to quantify it.
However, this approach only works if the organization chooses to report its practices to WGEA, and at present, reporting is not mandatory. Companies choose to report to WGEA so it tends to be a self-selecting data sample.
I think the government has a lot of action it needs to take. For example, Equal Pay was legislated in 1969 and yet we still have a gender pay gap of 22% based on total remuneration. The cost of childcare is pricing a lot of women out of returning to work at all. As a result, only 24% women aged 18-64 are in full-time work, and there’s a whopping 40% of women who don’t work at all.
In terms of women themselves pushing to reduce the gender pay gap; absolutely there are things any woman can do. Ask HR how the gender pay gap stacks up within the company. Ask what the firm is doing about equal parental leave and flexible work practices. Negotiate your salary when it comes to your performance review, remembering that your package comprises of different points you can negotiate – base salary, leave, and super. And when you have these conversations, don’t let them fall off the radar – follow them through.
Being a CEO and a mother, what does a typical day look like and how do you make time for everyone?
I don’t really believe in the concept of a typical day as no two days are ever alike as a CEO or as a mother!
With a full-time job – which is a startup – plus 3 children, flexibility is key. I abandoned the idea of a ‘traditional’ working day of 9-5 a long time ago because the reality is that as a startup, no two days are the same. And equally, with young children, you have to be there for them, and no two days are the same. So I’m generally not online before 9, 9.30 (after doing drop-off and running children-related errands) or between 5.30 and 8 (the witching hours!) but I’ll be back online after that. I enjoy the peace and quiet after the children are in bed and I know that a lot of my female entrepreneurial friends are also online, so it’s a good time to get the big strategic or intellectual pieces of work done.
What advice can you give to fellow mums on starting their own business and juggling motherhood?
I’d give a number of tips:
1. Aim to have a digital-based business.
2. Pay yourself super. I see so many entrepreneurs who believe their business will be their nest egg, but the reality is that so many businesses go under. So at least pay yourself super while you go. An easy way to do this is to charge an additional 10% on your invoices and use that to pay your super. An even easier way is to buy business supplies via Super-Rewards!
3. Be prepared for the juggle!
Favourite places in the Inner West?
I do love Balmain. It feels very like London where I lived for many years. I’m also a big fan of Leichhardt; the food aromas as I walk down Norton Street transport me back to Italy!
What has inspired you recently?
I have just finished watching ‘Cheer’ on Netflix. I never thought I’d watch a series on Texas cheerleaders (!) but it was incredible. Putting their athleticism aside, the levels of grit, determination, and sheer hard work were truly inspiring.